Misunderstanding Jewish values

Today among western Jews, it is just about impossible to disconnect Judaism and Israel. According to a 2013 PEW Research Center survey on U.S. Jews, over 87% viewed Israel as an important part of being Jewish. Lively debate has never been lacking in the Jewish communities of the world. A question which is often debated is whether the State of Israel is living up to Jewish values.

The left of center American Jews constantly use the “Jewish values” dialog to criticize Israel. The 2013 PEW survey notes that most American Jews believe in the attempted and failed “land for peace” formula. Left wing Jews believe they solely understand Jewish values and Tikkun Olam. It is actually original Christian values which they espouse. It is out of a deeply ingrained false interpretation of Jewish values that many Jews believe that if they only make more sacrifices, without demanding any reciprocity, peace will flourish. Apparently these Jews, so willing to sacrifice their own people’s wellbeing and self-determination, are inspired by how peaceful the non-Israel parts of the Middle East are.

The belief that the Jews should suffer for the rest of the world to prosper is worthy of Jesus on the cross, it is not consistent with Jewish values or morality. The Jewish Left has consistently worshipped the idols of peacenik rhetoric, defending every oppressed group, even those oppressing Jews, but refuse to defend themselves. Groups, like Jewish Voice For Peace, who are willing to give up on the historically proven necessity of Jewish self-determination, and groups like the J-Street, The New Israel Fund and the Open Hillel movement which claim to support Israel but host anti-Israel speakers and supporters of the BDS movement, fail to demand any reciprocity from anti-Israel groups. Jews have willingly accepted the role of the world’s martyrs.

When Jews willingly accept the role of sacrificial lamb, they should expect the world to view them as such. Regarding Israel, for the Jewish Left, perpetual martyrdom has become dogma. Unsurprisingly, world leaders then expect martyrdom.

During the AIPAC Policy Conference 2014, Secretary Kerry condescendingly implored Israel to emulate King David by making dangerous sacrifices for peace. Kerry should understand his Tanach better before preaching to Jews their own religion. Kerry believes that the greatest warrior king, who did not negotiate with the Philistines who only desired Israel’s destruction, was a dove, ready to divide Jerusalem for uninsurable peace. This belief stems from what he hears from the Jewish Left which claims to solely represent Jewish values.

In an interview with Bloomberg Magazine, President Obama called on Netanyahu to make dangerous concessions for peace by invoking Hillel.  Jews should be offended by Obama’s condescending use of their Rabbi to promote a suicidal agenda, but again, he was preaching to the choir of Jewish leftists in America who truly believe that this is what Hillel represented.

President Obama told PM Netanyahu that time is running out to make peace with Abbas, a dubious peace partner. President Obama quoted Hillel, “If not now, when?” This is only part of Hillel’s quote. President Obama ignored the rest of the quote, “if I am not for myself, then who will be for me? If I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?”

The Jewish left has truly internalized “If I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?” They must realize that these commendable values are predicated on “if I am not for myself, then who will be for me?” Jewish values incorporate a necessity to help others, critique ourselves, and strive for peace. They do not include an acceptance of complete lack of reciprocity on the part of others. Letting a stranger into your home is a virtue, letting a stranger into your home at the expense of the safety of your children is not. Jewish values do not teach martyrdom, and Tikkun Olam does not mean putting your people’s welfare last. Those are crucifixion values, not Jewish ones.

About the Author
Jeremiah Aryeh Rozman is a Senior Political Science Major and Middle East studies Minor at the University of Vermont. He made aliyah in 2005 and served in the Golani brigade 51st regiment from march 2007 until July 2009 (2.5 years of mandatory service). He is currently teaching Hebrew School in Burlington and is graduating with a BA in May 2014.
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